Tuesday, June 15, 2010

God Expresses His Wrath in the Conventional Way--But Why?

On Monday night, a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus, erected along Interstate 75 in Monroe, Ohio by the good people of Solid Rock Church, was struck by lightning. The fiberglass and plastic foam construction quickly burned, leaving nothing but the metal frame.

Since the damage to this statue (nearly total annihilation) is far more significant than what happened to the steeple of Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis last August (even if the cost is likely comparable)—and since John Piper took the storm that caused that damage as a divine message to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which at the time was preparing to vote to be more inclusive towards gays and lesbians—I can only assume that Piper believes Solid Rock Church is preparing to commit an even more egregious offense than the crime of being more welcoming, egalitarian, and loving towards gays and lesbians (that is, more loving than God wants us to be).

Of course, in the case of Central Lutheran Church, the offending party was the denomination to which Central Lutheran belonged; but since Solid Rock is a nondenomenational church, we can't look there for the offense that triggered such a spectacular (if conventional) display of divine displeasure: destruction by lightning bolt. So it has to be something that the church itself is guilty of doing or preparing to do.

But since I know nothing about Solid Rock Church, and since Piper has so far not informed us of the message God was sending through such a harsh and destructive act, I’m left puzzled. What could be the divine purpose behind burning up this statue of Jesus? Was it that it didn’t actually resemble the historic Jesus, and God is a stickler for historical accuracy (thus making sure, for example, that the biblical witness is without any such historical errors as offering incompatible accounts of Jesus’ genealogy)?

Did He not approve of the contemporary worship service at Solid Rock Church, because He’s a fan of traditional hymns? Or maybe, just maybe, God thinks churches should be spending their money on feeding the poor rather than on building enormous, kitschy, plastic-and-fiberglass statues along the highway? (No—that can’t be it. After all, burning down the statue will probably just inspire the church to build another $250,000 statue--or build a more expensive one out of flame-resistant materials--thereby directing even more resources away from caring for the least of these).

Anyway, I’m stumped. So if anyone can help me out here I’d be deeply appreciative.


  1. I think it's because Piper wanted them to be a satellite church of his and they refused. ;P

  2. J.L. Watts, on his blog, The Church of Jesus Christ, offers what may be the most compelling answer to this puzzling question: God was smiting OHIO. That it hit the statue was merely incidental.

  3. It could be that God is warning the congregation of Solid Rock Church that their idolatry will not be tolerated and maybe the $250,000 they spent on the statue would have been better spent...I don't know, maybe serving the poor.

  4. I can't imagine why God would punish Ohio in such an overt manner. He's already punished them plenty with the loss of many jobs. I think that would have far more effect than one burned statue.

  5. I would have thought that if God chose to punish Ohio, He'd be a bit more accurate with His bolts.

    But being Norwegian myself, I have no idea what He actually would want to hit in Ohio. Suggestions? Or am I straying too far off topic here, this being a serious discussion and all..?

  6. Well, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Ohio, and rock 'n roll is Satan's music--but if that was His target He had pretty bad aim.

  7. Well.. Ohio is big. For humans. But remember, God is somewhere up above - and He is HUGE. So it's hard enough just to hit the right state.

    And there's always the possibility of an angel tickling Him just as he was throwing the bolt.

    Or He decided to follow the Koran's ban against pictures and representations of humans.

    It's really not that hard to understand

  8. Øystein EvensenJune 29, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Ohio may be big, but the world sure is small. Nice to have two Norwegian readers of this blog named Øystein.
    Sorry for the off-topic remark.

    As for the topic, maybe God is tired of churches trying to escape his wrath by hiding under a cover of non-denominationality, and this display was meant as a wake up call. No one is safe! Just a guess...

  9. Comments by locals in the Dayton Daily News:

    “It sent goosebumps through my whole body because I am a believer,” said Levi Walsh, 29. “Of all the things that could have been struck, I just think that that would be protected. ... It’s something that’s not supposed to happen, Jesus burning,” he said. “I had to see it with my own eyes.”

    “I can’t believe Jesus was struck,” said his brother, who noted the giant Hustler Hollywood sign for the adult store across the street was untouched. “It’s the last thing I expected to happen.”